No. 103 Squadron (RAF): Second World War

Aircraft - Locations - Group and Duty - Books

No. 103 Squadron began the war as part of the Advanced Air Striking Force, making it one of the first squadrons to be sent to France. The Fairey Battle squadrons suffered very heavy loses during the Battle of France. Six days after the German invasion, No.103 Squadron was forced to abandon its advanced bases and retreat back into the centre of France. Once there the squadron had to take over the surviving aircraft of No.218 Squadron to bring its strength back up to 31 aircraft. By early June only sixteen of those aircraft were left, and only half of the sixteen escaped back to Britain at the end of the campaign.

The squadron reequipped with the Battle, using it against the German invasion barges during the autumn of 1940. The Vickers Wellington arrived in October 1940, and the squadron became a night bomber unit, carrying out that role for the rest of the war, spending nearly two years operating the Wellington and three the Avro Lancaster.

At the end of the war the squadron was renumbered as No. 57 Squadron.

Aircraft
August 1938-October 1940: Fairey Battle Mk.I
October 1940-July 1942: Vickers Wellington Mk.IC
July-November 1942: Handley Page Halifax Mk.II
November 1942-November 1945: Avro Lancester I and III

Location
1 April 1939-2 September 1939: Benson
2 September-28 November 1939: Challerange (France)
28 November 1939-15 February 1940: Plivot
15 February-16 May 1940: Betheniville
16 May-4 June 1940: Rheges/ St. Lucien Ferme
4-14 June 1940: Ozouer-le-Doyen
14-15 June 1940: Souge
15-16 June 1940: Abingdon (air contingent only)
16 June-3 July 1940: Honington
3 July 1940-11 July 1941: Newton
11 July 1941-26 November 1945: Elsham Wolds

Squadron Codes: PM

Group and Duty
26 September 1939: Bomber squadron with No. 1 Group, 74 Wing, Advanced Air Striking Force
From July 1942: Bomber squadron with No. 1 Group

Books

Wellington in Action, Ron Mackay. A well illustrated guide to the development and service career of this classic British bomber. Mackay looks at the early development of the Wellington and the unusual geodetic frame that gave it great strength, the period when the Wellington was the mainstay of Bomber Command and the many uses found for the aircraft after it was replaced in the main bomber stream.
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Review of Halifax Squadrons by John lake Halifax Squadrons of World War II , Jon Lake. This is a very good book on the combat record of the Handley Page Halifax. It covers much more than just its role as a front line bomber, with chapters on the Halifax with Coastal Command, the Pathfinders and SOE, amongst others. [see more]
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Lancaster Squadron 1942-43, Jon Lake. This book looks at the early career of the Avro Lancaster. During this period the Lancaster was just one of a number of aircraft used by Bomber Command, important amongst them the Wellington, the Stirling and the Halifax. Only by the end of this period do we see the Lancaster begin to emerge as the most important aircraft in Bomber Command. Lake covers the wide range of activities performed by the Lancaster squadrons during this squadron, including the famous Dam Busters raid. [see more]
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Lancaster Squadrons 1944-45, Jon Lake. A well balanced look at the career of the Avro Lancaster in 1944-45, the period most famous for the systematic night bombardment of German cities. This was also the period that saw the Lancaster used to support the invasion of France, and the period that saw 617 Squadron drop Barnes Wallis's huge streamlined bombs with great precision. [see more]
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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (14 April 2008), No. 103 Squadron (RAF): Second World War, http://www.historyofwar.org/air/units/RAF/103_wwII.html

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